Imagine buying a car and getting to take a trip to one of the world’s greatest racetracks on the automaker’s dime. Hyundai is flying 300 owners and fans of its N performance vehicles to Germany’s Nürburgring for the annual 24-hour race to cheer on its team, tour the circuit in a helicopter, and compete for the chance to drive a lap of the track.
Hyundai only has two N vehicles in its lineup at the moment: The i30 N and the Veloster N, and only the latter is sold in the United States. So it’s important for the Korean automaker to cultivate a loyal fan base for N, which is still relatively new. Hyundai reached out directly to fans via Veloster N owner lists and social media channels. If you’re still waiting on an invite, don’t bother — all slots have been filled. Maybe next year.
The event is billed as the “N Homecoming.” It might sound a bit strange for a Korean automaker to host a “homecoming” at a German racetrack, but Hyundai’s N division has but down roots at the Nürburgring. It has a test center at the track that handles development work on N models, and has raced test vehicles in the Nürburgring 24 Hours as part of that development process. Hyundai claims the “N” brand stands for Nürburgring, as well as Namyang, the home of its main R&D center in South Korea.
At the Nürburgring, Hyundai’s 300 invited guests will get to hone their skills at a driver academy. The 55 top performers will drive a lap of the track before the race. Tours of the Hyundai pit box and helicopter tours are also on the agenda. They’ll also get front-row seats as racing versions of the i30 N and Veloster N compete in one of the most insane motor sports spectacles on the planet.
With scores of corners spread out over 12.8 miles in Germany’s Eifel Mountains, it’s not surprising that the Nürburgring is nicknamed the “Green Hell,” or that automakers constantly vie for lap records in order to prove their cars are the real deal. The Nürburgring 24 Hours unleashes more than 150 cars and 600 drivers onto the track to run twice around the clock — rain or shine. In addition to the massive number of cars and the challenging nature of the track, the Nürburgring 24 Hours is notable for being one of the few major races that features only production-based cars, which are divided into different classes based on performance.
For the 2019 race, which takes place June 20-23, Hyundai will field i30 N and one Veloster N race cars, both in the TCR class built around lower-cost cars. Each car will have four drivers working a shifts, a necessity given the length of the race. Hyundai’s cars finished second and fourth in the TCR class in 2018, so can the automaker better that with a win this time around?
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